Hearst & Herriman

If we know much about William Randolph Hearst, the king of yellow journalism, it’s likely to be what we’ve gleaned third or fourth-hand from the film, Citizen Kane.  Orson Welles plays Kane, trying to plumb the depths of the soul of this egotistical, ruthless, dictatorial, vulgar, fabulously rich and ambitious man.  Hearst/Kane was not known for his cultural sophistication – Xanadu/San Simeon is a monument to aquisitive vulgarity – but, then again…

The picture at the head of this post shows Hearst visiting the Grand Canyon with George Herriman (hatted) the creator of Krazy Kat.  This comic strip was beloved by intellectuals, the Algonquin Round Table set, for instance, praised by George Seldes, one of the first highbrow critics to champion popular art forms, and is today revered, rightly!, as one of the great artistic creations of pop culture in the 2oth century.  (A few earlier posts on the strip, here.)

Hearst was friends with Herriman, and loved his work.  In fact, as the popularity of the strip waned in the 1930’s  in the face of more story-based comics, e.g. Li’l Abner by Al Capp, Hearst remained adamant in his support.  Many editors wrote him asking that he drop the comic from their syndicated papers, but he refused.

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One Response to Hearst & Herriman

  1. Ducky's here says:

    A great artist. Krazy Kat is a treasure and influential.

    I don’t know if Philip Guston acknowledged the influence but I’ve always felt it there.

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